Having never before heard of King Hu, I found myself pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed watching Sons of Good Earth. I did not know what to expect when the movie began. The developing love story along with the war story were rather unexpected. What was most unexpected was the comedy sprinkled throughout the movie. The comedy worked well to alleviate the tension presented by the Japanese in the film. There were some moments in the film, specifically during the action sequences, when there are unintentional hints of comedy. These hints of silliness stem from a lack of martial arts background on King Hu’s part. Because King Hu lacked the martial arts background, he relied on editing instead. Through the use of editing, King Hu was able to make even actors who look like they know nothing about fighting seem rather capable and believable on screen. Because this is King Hu’s directorial debut and he is only just beginning to get into the martial arts genre, Sons of Good Earth is only showing the beginnings of King Hu’s talents.
There were two things that I feel could be improved upon. The first part is the pacing of the film. From my understanding, the Japanese occupation spanned for a number of years; however, in the film, although it did seem like time had past, it was hard to tell exactly how much time had passed in the film. My impression was that the film itself was within the span of a few months or at most one year. This is why when the Japanese surrendered in the end of the film, it felt rather sudden and abrupt.
Another thing that can be improved upon is the long fight sequence at the end was also very very long. After a while, I began to lose interest because nothing new was brought onto the table. It was a constant back and forth that seems like it could’ve been told in a span of maybe 15 or 20 minutes of screen time. Once again, because the fight sequence was so long and it consisted of the same action, the ending came on rather abruptly. I feel that if King Hu made the actors look very tired like they have been fighting in the war for a very long time, then the ending of the film would be a very satisfying end. Instead, I’m left wondering if the ending was just thrown together.
Overall, Sons of Good Earth is definitely a movie worth watching. The story is great enough that unless you are looking closely you will not mind the little silliness here and there. Instead, you will be too engrossed in the story to care.